Halloween often kicks off the start of a season full of tasty treats that may not end until after the beginning of the New Year. A majority of pet owners are well aware that chocolate is bad for their pets; however, most of them do not know the specific reason that it is toxic. Theobromine is the specific chemical in chocolate that is the most hazardous to the health of our four-legged companions. Affecting the central nervous and cardiovascular systems within the body, symptoms of toxicity range from hyperactivity to seizures and may result in death if veterinary intervention is not implemented within a short period of time. Baker’s chocolate contains the highest concentration of theobromine, but the compound is found in all varieties and all are considered toxic.
Other candy hazards include raisins, macadamia nuts, sweeteners, and caffeine. Ingestion of these toxins can be costly and may damage vital organs, shortening the life span and quality of life of the pet, or may even result in death within a short time of ingestion. Poisonings are heart breaking for families and their pets and should be avoided by keeping candy and desserts out of the reach of pets. Parents should closely monitor young children with treats when pets are present and discuss the hazards with older children and visitors to the home. During holiday parties, pets should be placed in a safe area of the home away from visitors that may be tempted to allow pets to sample the tasty food that is available.
A side note for owners; another potential Halloween pet toxin is glow sticks and glow jewelry. Dogs and cats are frequently attracted to these items due to the light they give off; however, the toxic hazard remains after the glow is gone. We encourage owners to properly dispose of these items promptly after use in order to avoid accidental poisonings.
Ask us at Animal Central for more information on how candy and desserts may be toxic to pets or visit: http://www.petinsurance.com/healthzone/education/pet-poisons-and-toxins/top-10-pet-toxins.aspx
Dr. George Stroberg, DVM and Staff